Your First Radiation Therapy Appointment
During this time, the radiation oncologist will discuss your cancer and
treatment options that are available to you. The physician will discuss
length of treatment, side effects and further tests needed. This is the
time for you to ask questions.
Simulation is the first part of the treatment planning process. The radiation
oncologist uses a CT scanner to aid in planning your treatment. Sometimes
a non-toxic dye will be given to you to outline certain internal organs.
Prior to the simulation, the radiation therapist may place you into a
special positioning device that will help you hold your body still during
As the simulation is being done, you will be given either small black permanent
markings on your skin about the size of a freckle, or similarly sized
semi-permanent marks. They will create a focus for the treatment machine.
Your will be able to bathe or shower normally and not be concerned about
accidentally washing them off. Planning marks allow treatment to be given
to precisely the same spot each time.
A linear accelerator provides therapeutic doses of radiation during your
treatment. You will be asked to lie on a treatment table in a certain
position and hold very still. The treatment machine will move to a pre-determined
position, and you will not feel or see the radiation. Your therapist will
monitor your treatment from outside the room with the use of a closed
circuit television and intercom.
Music can be played during your treatment, if you have a favorite CD, please
bring it with you for your appointments. If you experience any issues,
you will be able to communicate with your therapist throughout your treatment.
It is extremely important that you do not move during your treatment.
Treatment time and duration of treatment will be determined based on the
type of cancer. The treatment usually takes only 15-30 minutes each day.
What are the side effects?
Side effects differ depending on the area of the body treated. The most
common are fatigue and skin irritation. Your doctor or nurse will discuss
with you how to prevent or minimize these effects.
Are there any restrictions on my activities?
Continue your normal lifestyle and daily activities, eat well and get plenty
of rest. Do not scrub off temporary marks placed on your skin until you
are told to do so. Do not apply any salves, direct heat or cold, lotions
or other self-remedies to the skin area being treated unless recommended
by your doctor.
Remember: It is important to be your own best health advocate. Carefully follow
all home care instructions you are given, and report any unusual symptoms
you may be experiencing to your health care team.